Counting Trees: How to Make the Most of Recycled Timber
Wood is one of the oldest building materials, an architectural staple that never goes out of style and can last generations. It’s a way to bring instantaneous character even to brand new homes. Melbourne architect Anthony Chan said, in an interview for Domain.com: “So many projects are flat with render, steel or glass, but timber gives a building warmth, texture and contrast.” We see it favoured above other materials not just for it’s ability to harmonise with almost any room, but also because of it’s environmental benefits – as the process of growing trees for timber removes CO2 from the atmosphere it’s considered the only renewable building material.
But how do you know for sure that your wood has been responsibly grown? There’s a bevy of stamps, labels and symbols but if you’re looking to truly minimise wastage during your next project – recycled timber is a must. Some go as far as to say “… it is no longer palatable or responsible, to use materials that are unlikely to be locally recycled, reused, or that don’t address life cycle issues, resulting in waste in landfill, anywhere in the world.”
Using recycled timber can help prevent the CO2 it stores from being released back into the atmosphere if it were to be burned or discarded in landfill. It’s also the most financially sound investment, often costing a fraction of that of new timber. There are psychological benefits to having timber in your home, too – having wood in your interior has a positive effect on stress levels that even live plants can’t beat.
So where do you start when bringing recycled timber into your home or workplace? With the timber itself. You can find floorboards, cabinets, old doorframes, posts, beams and furniture someone has ripped out during their renovation on any online marketplace. The risk here is sometimes the wood can be damaged, rotted or termites may have gotten to it, so depending on what you would like to use it for you should inspect your fleamarket find carefully before you use it. Another option is to go to a recycled timber specialist to buy either a fully-constructed piece or the materials you need. Like buying a secondhand car from a car yard as opposed to off a stranger, the price may be higher, but the quality will be too. You’ll find unique furniture and remilled timber of a guaranteed standard without any nasty surprises.
You’ve purchased your timber, now what can you do with it? Better to ask, what can’t you do with it. New decks, pergolas, support beams, flooring, garden features, planter boxes and much more can all benefit from the rustic, characterful look of recycled timber.
Unless specially treated, timber should be kept away from extreme heat or open flame so bear this in mind when you’re deciding what to turn your recycled timber into. Be sure to look into new innovations with paints, stains and other coatings. Special clear epoxy resins can protect your outdoor furniture from UV discolouration and give it water resistance, all while still showing off the natural beauty the material is loved for. You’re giving this timber a new chance, so protect it correctly and you’ll have something that will last generations to come. It’s worth the investment!
- Cody McConnell